I’m not really a ‘summer’ person, but I finally found a reason to get excited about 90 degree weather: solar dyeing!
I’ve always wanted to try this technique, but usually don’t think about it till summer is long gone. Lucky for me, a box of undyed yarns from Kraemer Yarns showed up on my doorstep not too long ago, prompting me to make some plans for dyeing experiments which I can share on this blog. Obviously, solar dyeing was my top priority, since I assume that there will be very few 90-degree days this fall (here’s hoping!).
It’s funny how, once you are actually looking forward to the next really hot day, they don’t show up! It took a few weeks of anxiously watching the weather forecasts, but there was finally a good day in August wherein I could give this a try. The upside of having to wait a few weeks? I could amass all of the supplies I needed! Here’s what I used to get the job done:
2-3 skeins of undyed yarn (I used 2 skeins of Jane, a DK weight blend of 60% US Superwash Merino and 40% Nylon)
1 large glass jar (I used a 1 gallon glass jar - just make sure it’s big enough to house the yarn you want to dye, with enough room for water)
Several Kool-Aid Packets - make sure they are sugar free!
Optional - dishwashing gloves, tongs
Here's what I did to achieve a kettle-dyed effect:
1. Fill container 2/3 of the way full with warm water. Add 1-2 packets of Kool-Aid to start (I began with 1 packet of Cherry). Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
2. Add skeins of yarn. Make sure that you have added extra ties to keep your yarn from tangling, if needed. I lucked out, though - the undyed Kraemer yarn comes pre-tied! Let the water soak through yarn, using tongs to gently work water and dye through yarn if desired.
3. Add a few more packets to the top of the yarn/water/Kool-Aid mixture - but resist the urge to stir! Allow everything to just naturally do their thing - the dyes will slowly migrate through the water and yarn if left untouched. For this step, I added a packet of Cherry, Black Cherry and Grape, and sprinkled each one like so:
4. Set jar in full sun - I ended up leaving mine in a window that the cats enjoy sunning themselves in!
5. Check on yarn in about 3 hours - now you can finally stir! I gave my yarn a VERY gentle stir just to move the skeins around a bit, but tried not blend the colors too much.
7. It’s time to pull out the yarn when your water is clear - that means the dye is exhausted! For me, that happened after about 7 hours of full sun. Gently squeeze out the excess water and allow your yarn to dry!